So anyway, I fell off the wagon yesterday. It would have been my fourteenth day sober.
If there’s a lesson here, someone point it out to me, please.
After publishing Tiny is the New Big, I checked my bank account because there were some things I wanted to do that might require gas in my car, like buy some food and go to my peer support group meeting about 40 minutes down the highway (sorry guys). I knew I was already pretty well into my overdraft but when I checked what I still had available, there seemed to be more than I’d expected. You may not think that’s a bad thing, but there was supposed to be an automatic debit for my auto insurance, and when I looked over the transaction list for the past 30 days, it wasn’t there. My agent, bless her, knows I’m struggling and has gone out of her way to work with me in the past, but my phone battery has been dead for weeks now (unhealthy coping mechanism) so if she’d tried to call I wouldn’t know. Not sure why it hadn’t been taken out, the forms were all correct, but maybe auto debits don’t work when you’re already overdrawn.
My vehicle situation was already a burden. It’s well overdue for regular maintenance, and I’ve been putting off the yearly plate registration, due last month, thinking I might be able to pay for it in December if I was careful. This left me with an unregistered car that had a quarter tank of fuel, an idiot light telling me to change the oil, and apparently no liability coverage. We all know what happens when you miss a payment on your auto insurance – the company demands full payment for the entire year or they cancel the policy. I was already behind a month on the two utility bills I still pay.
The closet in the basement of my mind where Amy lives creaked open at that point and she peeked out. I told her to go back, I screamed it, but she casually walked up, wrapped her lizardy arms around me, and whispered, “There there, you rest now.”
We drove my dodgy car to the liquor store, spending money I didn’t have but should have used for food even then on a bottle of rum. There are friends I could’ve called, friends who know and understand and would have come over in a shot, but I wanted it. I wanted to push the anxiety down, pretend it was all okay. Every other tool and technique I had used successfully in the past flunked out this time because, I think, my psychological fuel was gone.
It’s almost like the difference between aerobic and anaerobic metabolism, isn’t it? I don’t want to cast the blame on some abstract idea, though, when I know darn well it rests with me.
In the opening, I suggested I didn’t know if there was a lesson in this, but I knew there was all along, and here it is: I am a human being, riddled with flaws, and like many people I struggle daily with the demons that haunt me. Sometimes I fail. What helps those of us who can stand up again, despite the shame, the guilt, and the self-pity, is the same earnest desire to be better that helped us stand up in the first place.
When I had a stretch of shifts ahead of me, I would finish one and forget it so the next one would be the first. First of four, then first of three, and so on. It helped me get through. Today is my first day sober. Tomorrow I will face that decision again, and if I make the same choice as I did today it will also be my first day. I don’t expect I’ll be posting updates about it on Facebook anymore, though.
Writing this blog has been a boon to my health and well-being. It has given me purpose and direction, and something I feel is truly worthwhile spending my limited internal resources on. I’ve begun to see it as my job, one I love, and that has not changed.
My story isn’t over yet.
I want to make it perfectly clear that none of this is in any way an attempt to pull at any heart strings or solicit anything from anyone. That’s not who I am.
Explanations are not excuses, but just saying I’d been overwhelmed by something I don’t want to talk about is not an explanation, either.